Vanuatu

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the various frameworks and initiatives that exist in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) with regards to invasive species management and how they could be utilised towards the development of a coordinated mechanism by the countries in the Melanesian region in addressing biosecurity and invasive species concerns. The terms of reference for this report can be seen in Annex 1.

Vanuatu is made of a group of 80 rugged, volcanic islands which have been pushed up from the edge of the Pacific Rim.

Biological control of weeds in Vanuatu began in 1935, with the introduction of the tinged Teleonemia scrupulosa to control Lantana camara. To date, nine biological control agents have been intentionally introduced to control eight weed species. Seven of these agents have established on their respective hosts while an eighth, Zygogramma bicolorata, an agent for Parthenium hysterophorus has only recently been released and establishment is unlikely.

This island nation contains many marine eco-systems, from globally significant coral reefs to mangroves, seagrass areas, seamounts and deep-sea trenches supporting at least 769 fish species, including sharks and rays, as well as whales, dolphins and sea turtles.

This Report reviews existing laws that are relevant to the regulation and management of invasive alien species. The Report identifies potential legislative gaps, omissions contained in these legislations. There is a clarification of the extent in which invasive alien species control measures take precedence

Vatthe the largest Conservation Area, and the most extensive lowland alluvial forest left in Vanuatu, is under threat from an invasive vine, big leaf (Merremia peltata), which is causing the death of large numbers of canopy trees.

The Pacific islands of Oceania cover almost 15% of the world's surface and are characterised by a high degree of ecosystem and species diversity. The region is characterised by thousands of isolated small coral atolls and higher volcanic islands, which has led to the high diversity of species found today. In fact, the number of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth (endemic species) is extremely high - often up to 90% for particular groups. Often, these rare and endemic species are adapted to specialised habitats and limited to small areas of a few islands.